Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Kelowna ex-social worker accused of stealing from foster kids to be tried by judge alone

Robert Riley Saunders is facing 13 criminal charges

A disgraced former Kelowna social worker will stand trial for a variety of fraud and theft charges by judge alone.

After years of investigation and several civil lawsuits, Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in December and charged with 10 counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust and one count of uttering a forged document.

On Monday, he appeared briefly in a Kelowna courtroom electing to be tried by a Supreme Court Justice sitting without a jury.

Aside from criminal charges, Saunders — as well as the Ministry of Children and Family Development — faced a class-action lawsuit led by former youth in care in B.C.

Statements of claim accuse Saunders of stealing the funds deposited into accounts of those youth, leaving the foster children homeless and subject to physical and sexual abuse, as well as vulnerable to addiction.

In October, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alan Ross approved a settlement for more than 100 people.

The notice of settlement says each member will get a basic $25,000 payment and those who are Indigenous will get an additional $44,000.

Further damages could be paid to those who experienced homelessness, psychological harm, sexual exploitation, injury, or whose education was delayed, the settlement says.

In January, another civil claim was levied against Saunders, alleging he failed to inform children in his care of programs available to them upon their release from provincial custody. That claim also has the potential to become a class action lawsuit.

Saunders was hired by the ministry in 1996 and transferred to Kelowna in 2001. He was fired in 2018.

Saunders is scheduled to next appear in court on March 8. He remains out of custody on bail.

READ MORE: Ex-social worker accused of stealing from foster kids faces COVID Kelowna court delays

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker granted bail

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtFoster care

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Steven Brown is running for Penticton city council in the June by-election. (Contributed)
Penticton race director throws hat into city council ring

Steven Brown will run with a focus on small business

Penticton Vees celebrate a goal in their second win to start their season on Saturday night at the SOEC. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees head into final weekend tied for first in league

The Vees have two games to take the top spot

Kelsey Johnson, the City of Penticton’s manager for parks and recreation, was recognized by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association as an emerging leader for her work. (Submitted)
National recognition for Penticton’s head of parks & rec

Kelsey Johnson was deemed an emerging leader by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two Summerland businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read